Falcons could’ve had the top two sack artists from 2021
If you want to know why the Atlanta Falcons have been among the worst teams over the past few years, then look no further than two excruciating ‘what if’ scenarios from 2017 and 2020.
The Falcons have not had a consistent pass rusher since John Abraham who played his last year with the Falcons in 2012. We are basically in a decade-long drought of having no dominant pass rusher, but the Falcons have not lacked opportunities to land one in recent years.
Two players alone had more sacks than the Falcons as a team in 2021, both of which could easily be playing for Atlanta
The Atlanta Falcons had a grand total of 18 sacks — 11 fewer than the 31st-ranked Philadelphia Eagles — and two players alone had more than 18 sacks to their name, those being T.J. Watt and Robert Quinn.
Starting with Robert Quinn who followed up a disappointing first year in Chicago by tallying 18.5 sacks on the year. If it were basically any other year, he would have led the league.
Quinn signed with the Bears in 2020 and reports were that the Falcons offered him the same amount of money and he basically flipped a coin to decide which team to play for.
Instead, the Falcons had to sign Dante Fowler to a contract worth more per year than Quinn signed for and Fowler put up a disappointing 7.5 sacks in two years.
The Falcons almost ended up with Quinn who would have helped the team out immensely last year and in future years, probably.
Next up is the more painful T.J. Watt mishap. Why is it more painful? Well, at least with Quinn the decision was not fully in the Falcons’ hands, but with Watt, it was their decision to pass on him. Watt is also the better and younger player.
The Falcons were coming off of a heartbreaking Super Bowl loss going into the 2017 draft. One could argue they lost the game due to their inability to pressure Tom Brady late in the game, so Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff had one major goal — find a franchise pass rusher who would show up in the playoffs, unlike Vic Beasley.
And to say they screwed it up is a huge understatement. This one bad pick might have cost Atlanta numerous games over the past few seasons.
Atlanta traded up from the 31st pick to the 26th pick, seemingly to get ahead of Dallas and Pittsburgh who were likely targeting a pass rusher as well, possibly other teams as well.
The Falcons, as many know too well, picked Takkarist McKinley over the 2021 Defensive Player of the Year, T.J. Watt.
To help lessen the pain, Dallas also royally screwed it up by taking Taco Charlton. Looking back, Pittsburgh has to be more than ecstatic that Watt fell to them. If the draft was done all over again, Watt would easily be a top-five pick.
These chronic woes the Falcons have when it comes to getting to the opposing quarterback could have been a much lesser problem if these two scenarios did not play out like they did, but here we are wondering when this team will finally find a franchise pass rusher.